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CSV Import Problems

Elshara Silverheart

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Dear Invision community,

Since IPS4 was released, the creation of a CSV import tool hasn't gone unnoticed or unwelcome.

It has been developed to be far more extensible than any other software I've seen. Including the other popular behemoth VBulletin/Xenforo.

There's just one problem.

Even after disabling login handlers under standard/display names, so members just login with an email address, the importer runs into an error. Intentional or otherwise, it's the worst kind of problem one can face, when importing member profiles.

"Fields were imported, some rows were skipped. Display name not unique."

Anyone who has a duplicate display name, won't get their account imported even when login using display name is turned off.

That field should be based on a members email address only, as that's the perfect way to contact someone, not how to address them.

Members with duplicate display names won't impact your smaller communities on IPS, but with larger member bases, absolutely it will. Especially if you're migrating from a SARS application such as Ning, or even importing a CSV file from your email address book.

Also, the content of the imported profile email needs to be updated.

Members who don't receive a welcome email, won't know they have an account. While members who do, don't receive much of a welcome email. Apart from the fact that administrator created an account on the forum, and here's your password.

There's no way to write a custom message with any placeholders for member name, password etc on your own. This is practically a must have, as it signifies something official directly from you to them, without the impersonalization that tends to crop up where ever.

It's also a good time to mention that some members after awhile of a new forum setup, may wish to deactivate their account. There's no way to really manage members in bulk using IPS, including a responsive inactive members tool on the back end of things.

Furthermore, members should be allowed to make changes to their account right after their account has been imported, to give those members a special group. That aspect of things can partially be solved when creating a new member group, however the key focus still remains on the members being presented with a screen to opt out of the batch import process or continue browsing the site with the data that's already been saved on their behalf by an administrator.

This gives members the tools they need to display which information to whom, without it looking as if someone went in and edited that for them without their consent. Unfortunately, the best way to do that, is to have a profile completion box follow you around when signed into the site. Now when members receive temporary passwords, and forget they have one in their email, or if that never was shown to them, that's pretty much impossible to manage even though they think they're going on the site to do one simple thing.

It would be great if IPS designed a little tracker that tracked how many opens from an email address, members make so that such a cookie, all be it a temporary one, is used to control such settings. This would make IPS GDPR compliant and would also go a long way in making people less surprised or angry to have information they may or may not want displayed appear as such.

Despite that, it took about an hour to import 1000 members as a basic use of the tool. While there was about 20 fields of profile data being imported when I personally tested the tool, a lot of members were skipped because of duplicate display names not being unique.

For my community, that needs to be a requirement that only email addresses should be unique, and yet the setting to control that doesn't seem to apply to the import script at present. In my opinion, it should.

Making such updates to the export script, when admins later export the members list in CSV format would also help matters, as we could then make user groups based on already entered data chosen by members themselves, to separate data from that which has been chosen either automatically by the system import, or edited manually by other admins. Making such clear distinctions collectively helps to eliminate the need for members to not complain about having free speech, on forums that is just as much about a shared space, as it is a customizable and personal one for everyone.

To this end, if there is someone either from IPS or other customers willing to chime in to add their thoughts, I welcome the feedback and or suggestions.

to summarize, IPS needs to do the following:

1. control what happens when importing members or when new registrations occur if duplicate information is found anywhere in profiles.

2. Create a bypass system where duplicate non critical methods of login information are detected and accepted.

3. Include better controls for admins to customize the import message members receive.

4. Give members the ability to change default profile information, and add privacy settings to individual field controls for custom data they have entered on profiles ultimately managed by themselves.

Thank you for considering my request. Have a great day!

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You can't have accounts with duplicate display names - the software won't allow it, and it's not something we can simply toggle on or off. For instance, if I go to mention you, or I go to send you a PM, or ignore you, I do so by name, and if there were two accounts with the same name it wouldn't work (even overcoming the technical challenges of figuring out which one you meant upon submit, there is still the end user experience to consider - they won't know which one to select in the typeahead dropdown because both accounts have the same name).

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